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Iraq Transition

Kidnapped Iranian diplomat released in Iraq

Story Highlights

Released diplomat arrives in Tehran, Iranian news agency says
• Jalal Sharafi was abducted February 4; unclear who kidnapped him
• Boy, 11, found slain, apparently by al Qaeda in Iraq, U.S. military says
• Three killed in Baghdad attacks; six militants killed in U.S.-led coalition raids
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A top Iranian diplomat seized by gunmen in Baghdad two months ago was released Tuesday, Iraq's Deputy Foreign Minister Labid Abawi told CNN.

Jalal Sharafi, deputy secretary of the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, arrived in Tehran a few hours after his release, according to Iran's semi-official FARS news agency.

Abawi said he received a diplomatic note from the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, confirming Sharafi had been released. He had no other details on his condition or who was responsible for his kidnapping.

Sharafi was abducted February 4 in front of a branch of the Iranian state-owned Bank Melli in central Baghdad's Karrada district.

The U.S. military did not have any role in finding or releasing Sharafi, but would have provided assistance if it had been requested, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman, told CNN.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini has charged that those responsible for the kidnapping "acted under U.S. supervision."

He also said he held the United States responsible for the release of the diplomat, Iranian state-run media said.

According to Iran's Students News Agency, the kidnappers were wearing uniforms similar to those of Iraqi security forces.

Reports of Sharafi's release came as Iran and Britain tried to negotiate the release of 15 British sailors and marines held for more than a week by Iran, which has accused the Britons of trespassing in Iranian waters. Britain and Iraq maintain the troops were well inside Iraqi waters. (Full story)

U.S. military: Al Qaeda cell kills boy, 11

Meanwhile, an 11-year-old boy was found slain Monday on the northwestern outskirts of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

The military said an incident report indicated that a local al Qaeda cell killed the boy in an effort "to instill fear" in the townspeople.

Police on routine patrol in Saba al-Bor discovered the boy, whose throat had been slit.

Iraqi security forces have launched an investigation to find those responsible for the slaying.

Three U.S. troops, Briton killed

A U.S. Marine and two U.S. soldiers died Monday in Iraq.

The Marine was killed while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, the U.S. military said.

One U.S. soldier died of wounds suffered in a truck bombing in the northern city of Kirkuk, the military said, while the second was killed during fighting in Anbar.

Also, a British soldier died Monday from gunshot wounds suffered in an attack in the southern city of Basra, according to the British Ministry of Defense.

The number of American military personnel killed in the four-year-old war rose to 3,258, including seven civilian employees of the Defense Department. The number of British troop fatalities in the Iraq war is 136.

Other developments

  • Two roadside bombs and a mortar attack killed at least three people and wounded seven in Baghdad, according to Baghdad police. Six militants were killed and 13 people were detained in Anbar province in operations targeting "al Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighter facilitators," the U.S. military said. A raid also led to the capture of six insurgents in Qaim, near the Syrian border in Anbar province.
  • Iraq's government is moving back the start of Baghdad's daily nighttime curfew by two hours because daylight lasts longer, an official with the Iraqi Interior Ministry confirmed Tuesday. The curfew, which had been 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., will be 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Wednesday.
  • CNN's Amir Ahmed and Basim Mahdi contributed to this report.


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    U.S. troops patrol in Baghdad on Tuesday.

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